Alter.Nation Blog

Community news, customer stories, and more!
Alteryx is here to help you solve your biggest data challenges. Read about the new Virtual Solution Center here.
Alteryx
Alteryx

A few of us Alteryx developers (myself, @GaryS, @SteveA, and @AdamR) that have a lot of experience working from home (AKA, remotely) started a list of tips and tricks to make your lives easier and your work successful as many of us (temporarily) take on this potentially new adventure of WFH. Please feel free to add comments or your own tips for everyone to use.

 

via GIPHY

 


General


When your home is also your workspace, establishing both mental and physical boundaries between home and work is essential for work/life balance.

  • Take a walk out of the house to start the day and separate your start at home from your start at work. You can do the same at the end of the day. It’s good exercise, too.
  • Separate your workspace from your home space
    • Working in a public “family” space should be avoided at all costs. Remember, your kids see your home as a play area, not your office.
    • If you can, set up a dedicated area for work and do nothing but work there
    • If you can’t dedicate a space for work, physically put away your work at the end of the work day and “close the office”
  • Get dressed for work like you would normally. This will put you in the mindset to be at work, even if pajamas are more tempting. I wear Alteryx shirts every work day and only on work days, then change at the end of the day.
  • Start and end your day at your normal hours. Don’t be late starting and don’t be tempted to stay late because you’re already at home
  • Try and “commute” to and from the office by giving yourself a few minutes before work to transition from family mode, and a few minutes after shutting down your laptop to get back to your family. Try not to bring the office back into your living space (years of WFH experience drives this point home).


Switching office space can take a significant physical toll on your body, so take time to set up your office so you are comfortable and have good ergonomics.

  • As best you can, mimic the setup you have at your regular office, with a correctly-fitting chair, desk with sufficient space for wrist and hand support, and monitor(s) at the correct height.
  • Hunching over your laptop in an uncomfortable position is a recipe for eye strain, neck strain, back pain, RSIs, you name it.
  • Be vigilant as these problems can arise very quickly when using a computer in an inappropriate way, especially when your body is used to a different location.
  • Take frequent breaks to stand, stretch and move about to help your body adjust to its new physical environment.
  • If you feel pain or discomfort, do not ignore it, wish it away, or cover up with Tylenol. Your body is warning you it doesn’t like your new temporary home office setup, and left unchecked it could lead to something worse. Act responsibly by adjusting your setup and being proactive about movement.


Take a break for lunch and snack away

  • Eating away from your work is an easy way to regain focus and motivation
  • In fact, why not take this WFH opportunity to engage in a mindful eating exercise?
  • Keep yourself fueled with snacks, tea etc. throughout the day as you would at the office.
  • But be careful not to over-indulge. Having all of your favorite snacks easily accessible can be a strong temptation.


Establish boundaries with your spouse, roommates, children, pets, carnivorous plants, etc., so they know not to disturb you when you’re at work. If you have a dedicated office (lucky), close the door

  • Be firm about saying “no” to asks during the day. Just because you happen to be working at home doesn’t mean you can flip the laundry on demand.
  • Needy pets are a recipe for distraction. WFH does not mean WFF (Working For Fido). Fish and snails aside, keep pets and children out of your work area.

 

via GIPHY

 


Communication

 

  • Staying connected is many times more important when you’re working remotely, even if only for a short time. Use all of the tools your company provides - Slack, Microsoft Teams, Outlook, etc., as well as any specific to your job function.
  • Take time to set up your microphone (and camera) appropriately for each of the communication applications you use (i.e., Slack, Teams, Webex, etc.). Know how to troubleshoot microphone problems.
    • The built-in microphone on your laptop should be considered the least-capable form of audible communication
    • If possible, use a headset microphone
  • Many times, you’ll have to speak twice as much to communicate half the information. Stay on top of your communication and make sure everyone on your team is in the loop. Hallway talks aren’t possible working remotely
  • Find out which communication methods work best for the people and groups you work with, since you are now going to be relying on those methods and not face-to-face conversations. Don’t send emails to people that don’t check their email, don’t use Slack to reach people that keep Slack closed, etc.
  • The good news is, back-to-back meetings are going to be much easier since you won’t have to walk between them. Also, no fighting to find a meeting room. Schedule away! The bad news is, back-to-back meetings...
  • Use your webcam if your home workspace will allow for that and you’re comfortable. Seeing a face makes communication more clear and brings everyone closer together (virtually). It also helps keep you engaged. Without the camera, it can be tempting to sneak a peak at your phone which can quickly turn into several minutes of not following the conversation.
  • Keep in mind that if you or others aren’t using video in meetings or on conference calls, you lose out on body language cues. You will probably accidentally interrupt or be interrupted, mishear, or otherwise face difficulties you don’t have face-to-face. Be patient.
  • Even with the camera, you still lose a lot of the in-person body language that we are wired to use as part of our communication. This will cause people to misunderstand your intent more often than you are used to. Be cognizant of that, and compensate by providing more context through your words than you might normally.
  • In text communication, expect to misunderstand someone’s intent or be misunderstood yourself. Be patient, ask questions, and don’t assume anything but good intent.
    • Email and slack/teams communication may have unintended not-positive or even negative connotation. Understand that words can be interpreted in different ways, so be explicit with your word choices to avoid potentially misleading conversations.
  • Be proactive with your communications. Since people can’t just stop by your desk, they won’t reach out as often as they normally do. Make a point of connecting with your teammates at least once a day above and beyond normal ceremonies to make sure everyone is in the loop with what’s going on.
  • Use the buddy system. Find someone that you normally work close with to keep an open dialogue going throughout the day. This will help both you and them from feeling isolated and give you a place to get help and encouragement if you’re feeling stuck.
Comments
14 - Magnetar
14 - Magnetar

Thank you so much for these awesome tips!! Going from an occasional at-home-worker to facing the prospect of 6 weeks WFH with a kiddo that has no school has been a bit daunting... love the advice to be cognizant about separating work from home, even when they're in the same spot. I think that will help both of us!

 

On a related note... New desk chair has been ordered and is on the way 🙂

 

PS. For anyone looking for tips on how to deal with kids at home while WFH, I thought this article was pretty encouraging. It can be done!! And think about the opportunity of making something fun that could otherwise seem very disruptive/disconcerting... my kindergartner & I created a plan this morning for our "school schedule", with time scheduled for reading, work, play, and relaxation. She's on board (so far...), and I'm actually a little excited to see how we can be creative together to get through the next month or so. #neverstoplearning